BOSTON -- Standing in the locker room after the team’s morning skate and speaking with players, one would not sense that the Boston Bruins are preparing for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
Bruins players were jovial. They were calm. More importantly, they seemed focused. If Boston can win Game 4, it will have a commanding 3-1 series lead and be one win away from hoisting the Cup for the second time in three years.
How foretelling would a Bruins win be? Of the 25 teams that were up 2-1 in the Stanley Cup finals and won Game 4 to go up 3-1, all have gone on to hoist the Cup (since the finals went to a best-of-seven format), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“We’re in a stage right now where I think we just got to stay focused,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “My job is to keep our team focused on the present, not the future. That’s the most dangerous thing right now, is to try to look ahead. We have a job to do tonight -- not tomorrow, but tonight. I think our guys have to be ready for that challenge that we’re going to get tonight.”
“This is a real big game,” Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. “It’s either going to be 3-1 or 2-2, so it’s a big change of events tonight. Hopefully we’ll be ready and don’t take it lightly.”
Since losing Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the Bruins are 11-2, with both losses coming in overtime. They have outscored opponents 40-21 in that span. Boston has won seven straight at home, outscoring opponents 21-10. They haven’t allowed a goal in their last 186:28 of play at the Garden, in part due to the Bruins’ ability to win faceoffs and sustain puck possession.
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron is considered one of the top faceoff men in the league. He ranked first during the regular season and has continued to dominate in the dot in the playoffs. His 24-for-28 in Game 3 was a big reason Boston dominated Chicago.
“It’s about bearing down every time you’re at the dot,” he said. “But also talking to your wingers and your defensemen to win the battles for you also. It’s not just about the centermen, it’s all five guys. They have some really good centermen over there. They do take a lot of pride in their draws as well. We’ll need to make sure we bear down.”
The Bruins have won each of their four Stanley Cup finals games contested at the new Garden, outscoring the opposition a combined 19-3.
“Tonight will probably be one of the toughest games of the series,” Bruins forward Tyler Seguin said. “Obviously Chicago’s here for a reason. We’re expecting nothing less than them coming out flying, so I think we need to be ready for that, especially in our own building.”